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    5 tips for tactfully combatting negative patient reviews

    Editor’s Note: Welcome to Medical Economics' blog section which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, a healthcare marketing agency in Atlanta, Georgia. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Medical Economics or UBM Medica.


    Alex MembrilloAccording to a survey by Software Advice, 77% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, with nearly half of respondents saying they would even go out-of-network for a doctor who had more favorable reviews than an in-network doctor.


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    The troubling reality is that review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades often attract patients who are more likely to air grievances, rather than praise. In other words, it’s a near certainty that every physician and medical practice will encounter a fair share of negative patient reviews.

    How you handle these negative reviews will determine how your current and prospective patients will view your practice. By adding a bit of tact—and strategy—to your responses, you can turn negative reviews into positive actions that will help grow your practice.

    Here are 5 effective tips for tackling negative patient reviews with tact.

    1. Respond quickly


    The old adage “silence is golden” is not an appropriate strategy for reputation management. Not only does ignoring a negative review further anger the patient, but it also makes prospective patients question your professionalism.

    In fact, 60% of Software Advice’s survey respondents said it’s very or moderately important for doctors to respond to online reviews.

    Your first instinct might be to ignore negative reviews so that you avoid exasperating the problem. However, through quick and well-thought-out responses, you can actually turn these negative reviews into a positive.


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    The key to providing fast—and appropriate—responses is to create several templated responses, all of which are HIPAA compliant. While you’ll likely adapt each template slightly for each review, these templates allow you to post a response quickly, without fear of making matters worse.

    2. Validate the reviewer’s opinions

    If a patient criticizes your practice (for long wait times, as an example), the most destructive thing you can do is deny the accusation.

    An example of a truly harmful response would be something along the lines of: Actually, our wait times are below the average experienced in other locations.

    Next: Avoiding the vitrual finger pointing

    Alex Membrillo
    Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, a healthcare marketing agency based in Atlanta, Georgia.


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